tv [untitled] November 22, 2010 12:00am-12:30am PST
>> good afternoon, everyone. if you would take your seats for this incredibly happy occasion. i am the director of the san francisco department of public health, and i want you to think back 13 years, because that is when i began. and when i started, the very first crisis i had to deal with is what shall we do about the laguna honda hospital. it has always been known for the incredible care, the loving nurses, the fantastic physicians, the energetic volunteers, the courage of our residents, for all of the things that made the care great. but we had a problem. and the problem was the building. we were in a building that had long outlived its usefulness as
a place for residents to live. it was no longer consistent with any medicare or medicaid rules. we were the only facility left in the country running open wards. we were told we would not be allowed any longer by both the federal and state authorities. it was a place where, while the care was wonderful, the building did not fit any modern earthquake standards. where privacy was insufficient to support human dignity. where people did not have a place to store their stuff. where people did not have a window to look out on. where we had to have wards that had closing doors because there was not that easy access to the outside. here we had a vibrant set of people -- residents, nurses,
doctors, attendants -- but what we lacked was a space that was equal to them. with that, i hope all of you -- looking around the crowd, so many of you did to make this reality. derek parker set the vision of every room with a window. whether it is one of you who voted for this, or one of our wonderful residents who has been a volunteer here. all of you had a role in creating that facility we are so proud of. with that, i would like to bring out the mayo -- the mayor of san francisco. give him a round of applause, because he deserves it. [applause]
for the last seven years, he has been a steward of this city, helping us to overcome many of the challenges that we have faced, as you will hear throughout the program. part of what makes today so sweet is it was not easy to get here. it was really hard. there were a lot of bumps on the road to this fantastic moment, many things we could not have anticipated, many things we did not know. throughout it, the mayor has always supported it, help us to solve the problems we face. i think the biggest part of the to be to him is the fact that this is the first leed building -- the environmental certification -- the first leed hospital in california to be built. i think that really speaks to
his commitment to environmental issues at a time, 12 years ago, when it was not so popular, and it seemed like a quixotic kind of adventure to be talking about it. he said it was real. he was right. now people talk about it as a day to day economic reality. mr. mayor? >> thank you, doctor, and thank you all for taking the time to be here today. to begin with, i would like to recognize a couple of people. one person whose spirit is here, but whose sisters took the time to come out here. that is his sister and his kids that are here somewhere in the crowd. there you are. thank you karen, for coming out. john was a special diet and so many ways. we would not be here had it not been for his constancy, his
faith in the notion of this project and his love of every one of the residents, many of whom are here today. it is good to see you guys. and all the caregivers here, john loved. i want to take that moment and reflect on his contribution. let us also take a moment to reflect on the doctor. we are blessed. you do not want to be the best of the best. you want to be only the one who does what you do. his commitment to public health in san francisco is second to none. he has done an extraordinary job leading by example. this is a city that is doing things that no other city in the united states of america could even imagine doing, things that even when we had all the resources in the world and all
the capacity, things that cities could not do. this commitment to an acute care, facility, a skilled nursing facility -- what county is having a ribbon cutting on a new nursing facility in this modern age? and what city and county can lay claim to comprehensive universal health care, regardless of pre- existing conditions, regardless of your ability to pay? dr. mitch kastz has been the architect of all of this. thank you for your leadership. there is the old play towline that if there is any hope for the future of those with lanterns will pass them on to others. let me talk about those that carry bright lights, that pass those lanterns on to others. many of them you will hear in just a moment, because they are appropriately on stage and will
be recognized for their own work. one is the former mayor, willie gramm, who deserves a tremendous amount of credit for envisioning the bonds that brought us here. i want to thank in particular the leadership of the city attorney, who in some ways is responsible for us being here because she created that impetus to initiate a federal lawsuit against a tobacco company back when few people thought there was any hope and that there should not be much expectation of success. she carried that torch. she succeeded in that effort. she moved on, but she did not move away. she not only created the framework that allowed us to generate, all told, $141 million
that contributed to this project today because of that tobacco settlement, but she said it is one thing to have a bond and another thing to have a settlement. minutes and equipment. we need new things to provide dignity that this building's physical architecture can supply. that is louise gray. thank you, louise, for your extraordinary leadership. when mitch was referencing -- it is interesting. i was elected mayor and one of the first stops i had was, literally, within 7 feet of where i am standing here today, but it was just dirt. that was the groundbreaking for this. here we are seven years later at the ribbon cutting.
despite the delays, we are here. we are here as well in reference to what mitch was saying. a lot of it was not easy. the private commitments did not come in as expected. the money did not all materialize exactly as expected. but we call on someone who at the time could lead the way in terms of reconciling some of the concerns counties like san francisco had around their acute care facilities. we went to her many times to help us with san francisco general and to help us with laguna honda hospital. one of the big reasons we are here was the ingenious legislation that she appropriately and wisely introduced on behalf of not just this city but cities and counties large and small up and down the state, and allowed us to leverage federal dollars.
it is appropriate now she is in the federal legislature. that is state senator and current congress woman jockey spears j jockeyackie -- jackie spiers. the contributions, large and small, the current members of the board of supervisors, previous president of the board, all of those that contributed so much down at city hall, we are glad you are here, ed lee at the department of public works did, the principal lead agency in the government, thank you for your stewardship of this project. you did a great job. to louise cansell, who put out a
press release acknowledging over 100 meters at that now adorn this extraordinary building. there is not $1 wasted in the commitment of public art. it was 2% set aside. if any of you have been inside, you know exactly what i mean when you have the opportunity to walk around. thank you to the arts commission. to the outstanding architect, thank you for those windows. thank you for the vision. to all the partners -- i will not keep going. i could. i know you're getting nervous. there are tens speakers behind me. let me try to close up, but there are a lot of people to a knowledge. one of the great things about this project is it builds
community -- not just community in terms of the residents of this facility and residents in the area, but we are connecting community-based organizations. we are connecting the rest of the city through this remarkable place. i want to thank all of this community based organizations that have stepped up and step in, folks you never think about like the san francisco zoo. we have a little zoo back there. to the contributions of organizations like jvs, and organizations that do incredible hospice work. they are all partnered with laguna honda. to the volunteers. to the foundation. thank you for your commitment. thank you for your support. finally, and this was a long winded point i wanted to make, it to the residence. the dignity that you deserve.
the facilities that you have long before -- you have longed for. to those we have lost along the way, supervisors elsbernd and i had great friends that wanted to be here today that were hoping they could make it through. this is for them. but this is for all of you, for your families. it is difficult for families to make the decision to send their loved ones to a facility like this. it is challenging. sometimes, you are left with a tremendous amount of guilt and anxiety, where you just cannot do it all yourself. i am actually convinced, and i mean this, what this facility will do is bring families back together. there is every reason for a family member to feel proud about the care they are receiving here, but now more than ever they will feel not
only pride but they will feel a sense of exhilaration every time they come back to visit their loved one. i am confident those visits will increase accordingly, because there is every reason to want to come here. there is an arts center. there is a library. you can enjoy the rabbits and llamas, the swimming pools and the workout facilities, and the duty that surrounds this 52 acres. to all of the family members, all the patients, and finally the care physicians, those men and women that are working here day in and day out, sacrificing so much. congratulations. this is all for you. thank you very much. >> that was great. [applause] that was wonderful. thank you, mr. mayor.
we really appreciate it. the mayor spoke of the tremendous role of congresswoman jackie spier. i said, "will you please join us in supporting the hospital? she said, "my grandfather was here. as a child, i took care of him here. just let me know what you need." that is something you hear pretty often. it is just words. but a few months later, i said "i need you to do something." i told her that we needed a state bill passed that would enable us to be able to leverage federal dollars so we could build this facility. she said she could do it and then she did, which i think is very much the story of her life -- a woman with a huge heart who